Sunday, October 18, 2009

Short Story Sunday: October 18th

I haven’t been particularly active through my challenges as much as I would have liked to be and I am making serious attempts here to push through Carl’s RIP IV Challenge, because I love October even if I hate autumn, so in an attempt to even out the program here and there before my Halloween Week Event I decided to review some short stories.

Thankfully through the blogosphere I learned that Juno Books had a special Halloween treat for readers in the form of four short stories that revolve around the dark mythology associated with fairies and the land of the elves. After reading this charming booklet I have to say that they aren’t really scary, but then again these short stories are as authentic as they come, dating back to the nineteenth century. The mindset back then is startlingly different, especially when it comes to what scared the people back then. Then there is the story telling form and voice, which are different and echo the ancient Greek myths I have spent reading through my years before picking up speculative fiction. I am partially guilty of letting my memory bury all the names and enchanting stories behind them, but enough side tracking. Here is the breakdown.

“The Child that Went with the Fairies” by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu: I loved this short story, even though I found it a bit puzzling at times around the dialogue, which was delightfully authentic. Le Fanu has penned a delightfully narrated and vividly descriptive, especially with the initial scenery, about the oldest myths surrounding fairies and namely their fondness for kidnapping beautiful children. The author has managed to capture with his language the cold and alluring beauty of the fey and the danger that is mixed with it. Once the blond haired Bill has been taken away from his mother, the old widow Moll Ryan, during his playtime with his siblings, elements of haunting are introduced as well, which certainly add a spookier aspect.

“The Adventure of Cherry of Zennor” by Robert Hunt: Reading this was a great pleasure and quite whimsical and magical in the positive quirky way. The archetype for this story can be found pretty much in every culture and it features the young girl protagonist, whisked away at a magical house and given strict and usually surreal instructions that she must obey at all costs and among those is one or two prohibitions. Such is the case here as Cherry searched a house to be in service and is led by a handsome gentleman to a magical manor, where the task she is presented with enter the fantastical. Of course she doesn’t follow the strict orders and is then let go of her services and has to return back to her home.

“Ethna the Bride” by Francesca Speranza Wilde: Another delightful story that digs into the popular belief that all beautiful girls and brides are in danger to be whisked away by faery lords and kings for their beauty. Ethna is such a beautiful bride and has been taken away by the fairy king Finvarra’, but the story doesn’t end here as her husband tries everything in his power and manages to win back his love from the sidhe king and as such testifies his love of no bounds. All in all very beautiful and romantic.

“Tamlane” by John Joseph: The last story is actually based on a very old ballad, which has been added as extra bonus at the end of the book, and also speaks about love and the fight that ensues as the fairy Queen decides to knight the mortal man Tamlane and steal him from his betrothed. After a long time both do see each other and Tamlane reveals how he can be freed from his duties as knight for the Queen. It’s pretty short and straight forward, but as short as it is it contains that spark of bewitchment and wonderment that very few stories I have read in my life contain.

On a different note I decided to read an ever darker and grimmer story. The solution came in the face of Damien G. Walter and his hilarious and cynical “Cthul-You”, which definitely had me smirking all the way through. We follow a very dispassionate and misanthropic protag, who has chosen to look disgusting in order to kill all interest people might exhibit towards him. Naturally this person prefers to be alone and desires the end of the world. However he doesn’t want to be the overlord, he wants to find his master and so he does, but not through a hidden sect. No that would be too trivial. The answer is in “Cthul-You”, the Facebook for all those that seek to destroy the world… The outcome here is delicious.

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